Ears indicate sense of hearing. A person cannot be defined by his physical features but folklore has it that persons with large ears are the ambitious kind. They are also supposed to be intelligent and kind-hearted. This often proves to be the reverse sometimes. In criminology, Lombroso Theory states that criminals could be identified by their physical features or defects. Thirty- five years ago, we had fun in the criminology class as Lombroso grouped the ‘born criminal’ by anatomically identifying broad or sloping forehead, unusually sized ears, protruding and pointed nose etc etc by clinically observing prisoners.
None in the class became an exception to one Lombroso’s several categorisations! To top the fun, our professor had multiple qualifications to be behind bars! It is interesting to note that Cesare Lombroso went into spiritualism in his final years....it is hardly unlikely that he had anything to say about Ganesha’s ears!
Taoism has some interesting things to say about big, medium and small ears. This is Taoist Mien Shaing, if anyone cares to research. Anyway, we cannot be walking around with a measuring tape, so let us leave aside facial diagnosis!
Lord Ganesha’s ears appear like large winnowing basket which is used to separate grains from dirt. This has a philosophical symbolism. First let us look at the body and head representations. His human body represents ‘tvam.’ His elephantine countenance represents ‘tat’ and their joining together signifies the non-difference of ‘tvam’ and ‘tat’ or Brahman. Therefore the visible representation of Ganesha is of the highest reality, Brahman, realised from Tat Twam Asi.
Another way at looking at this is to say that Ganesha’s head signifies Atman, the Highest Reality, while the body below the neck represents Maya or illusion. Maya is the principle of phenomenal existence. The Atman’s involvement with the world is characterised by the assumption of mind and speech.
Coming back to Ganesha’s winnowing basket ears, the symbolism behind it is an indication that one must use Viveka or discrimination to separate the real Brahman from the unreal Maya in one’s life. Here the grains represent Brahman. The dirt signifies Maya. This knowledge is earned by hearing as indicated by His ears; taking recourse to Sravana or hearing the teachings of a guru or learned person qualified to teach. Sravana, Manana, Nidhidhyasana and Samadi are the paths of enquiry, that is, the hearing the Truth, reflection, meditation and Blissful Peace. Eagerness for liberation is an essential requisite for Sravana.
Hara Hara Mahadeva.
(Notes: Ganesha Symbolisms)
The son of Parvati was given the name Ganesha by Shiva. The word Ganesha is made up of gana meaning, followers of Shiva and isha, the lord, thus Shiva appointed him the lord of his ganas. By Lord Ganesha’s blessings, may this and the days ahead be without obstacles and bring you success, knowledge and wisdom. Om
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi